Turnham Green Ward councillor, and leader of the Conservative Group on Hounslow Council, Joanna Biddolph has issued the following statement on Hounslow Council’s recent proposals for road closures, parking removal and social distancing in central Chiswick calling on Hounslow’s cabinet member for transport to do the decent thing and change his mind:
“In over 20 years of involvement with retailers and businesses in Chiswick, initially working with them and now as a councillor and through the Chiswick Shops Task Force, I have never known any proposal from Hounslow Council to arouse more opposition from traders and residents. Nor have I ever seen traders more worried about their futures. Just as they were about to re-open after an enforced closure, with determination to rebuild their businesses for our benefit, they learned that Hounslow council doesn’t want to help; it wants to make it even more difficult for them.
“It is not just the technical deficiencies in the proposed schemes for Turnham Green Terrace, Devonshire Road and Chiswick High Road that have upset our shopkeepers. Nor is it only because of the decision to ignore the government guidance to consult traders (including those who haven’t re-opened yet). And it isn’t just the absurdity of trying to carry out major changes when other significant road works have already started on Chiswick High Road, and others were already scheduled on Devonshire Road. It is the council’s refusal to listen, even now, to their concerns or to consider modifications to ease the worst impacts.
“We all accept that the Coronavirus pandemic has changed everyday life. We have to live with social distancing now, and might again later if there is a second peak. There is a willingness to try new approaches – introducing school streets, for example, has been widely welcomed. But the pandemic has also made the already precarious lives of many traders in Chiswick even more difficult. They do not deserve the imposition of ill-thought out changes in road use and parking that in some cases could cause their businesses to close.
“The council must stop claiming that traders do not need the stop and shop parking that the council was itself until now keen to support.
“The council must stop pretending that vehicle access is just about deliveries. It is about shopping – residents spending in several shops in one trip, loading carrier bags into their cars, deliberately supporting our local retail economy. And it is about making life easier for older or disabled people.
“The council must stop claiming that Devonshire Road is a “rat run”. Traffic is light because it’s a road to nowhere else, it’s a road to here – to our homes in the Glebe Estate, to the alphabet roads, to the river, back to the High Road, to our friends’ homes right here in Chiswick. And to the local neighbourhood shops we value and want to succeed.
“The council must stop claiming that Turnham Green Terrace is a “through route”. It is a B road, a local road for local people that takes residents from one part of the ward they live in to another, and from one Chiswick ward to the next. We don’t live our lives within local authority ward boundaries; we all have friends or family – and go shopping, to the doctor, to the vet, to church – in all wards in Chiswick, in the three Hounslow wards and in Ealing’s Southfield ward.
“Since the announcement of these proposals I have been determined, with my Chiswick councillor colleagues, to work with the majority group to find a positive way forward for residents and businesses.
“We now need the cabinet member for transport, Cllr Hanif Khan, to listen to the concerns that have been so powerfully expressed by the people whose lives and businesses will be the most significantly affected – and to change his mind.
“It is not too late. Sometimes in politics it takes more courage to admit you have got something wrong than to stick to an indefensible position. Come on Hanif. Stick up for Hounslow residents. Stick up for Hounslow traders. Stick up for Chiswick. And ditch these unnecessary and unwanted restrictions on your residents’ lives and your traders’ livelihoods.”